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Hawaii State Courts

Courts – State Courts – Hawaii

Highest Court

The highest court in Hawaii is the Supreme Court of Hawaii.  The Supreme Court consists of 5 justices. It has jurisdiction over (1) Mandatory jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, disciplinary, certified questions from federal courts, and original proceeding cases. (2) Discretionary jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases.

Intermediate Courts

Intermediate Court of  Appeals
The Intermediate Court of Appeals consists of 4 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Mandatory jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases assigned to it by the supreme court.

General Courts

Circuit Court and Family Court
The Circuit Court and Family Court consist of 29 judges and 16 district family judges..  It has jurisdiction over (1) Tort, contract, real property rights, miscellaneous civil ( $5,000/no maximum [concurrent from $5,000-10,000]). Exclusive domestic relations, mental health, estate, administrative agency appeals jurisdiction. (2) Felony, misdemeanor, DWI/DUI, miscellaneous criminal. (3) Moving traffic, miscellaneous traffic. (4) Exclusive juvenile jurisdiction.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Limited Courts

District Court
The District Court consists of 22 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Tort, contract, real property rights ($0/10,000) [concurrent from $5,000-10,000 (civil noninjury)], miscellaneous civil. Exclusive small claims jurisdiction ($3,500). (2) Felony, misdemeanor, and DWI/DUI. (3) Moving traffic and miscellaneous traffic. Exclusive parking and ordinance violation jurisdiction. (4) Preliminary hearings.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Additional Information

Supreme court law library revolving fund.
Section 601-3.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes establishes a revolving fund for the statewide supreme court law library system.  All fines, fees, and other forms of revenue that stem from the system’s operation shall be deposited into this fund.  This money shall be used to replace or repair lost, damaged, stolen, unreturned, or outdated books, serials, periodicals, and other library materials.  This money may also be used to support and improve library services.

Separate sessions at same time.
In accordance of Section 603-11 (Hawaii Revised Statutes) there may be one session of the circuit court of any circuit, or separate sessions of the court at the same time, each of which may be held by one, but not more than one, of the judges of the circuit court of that circuit or any other circuit judge who may be authorized to preside in that circuit. Judgments, decrees, orders, and proceedings of any session held by any one of the judges shall be as effective as if only one session was held at a time.

Courts of record; testimony and proceedings
Section 604-17 of Hawaii’s Revised statutes assigns the district courts as the courts of record.  The district course shall have the responsibility of preserving the minutes, proceedings, and testimony of trials, transactions, and judgments, and the facts on which decisions were based.  This information may be recorded on tape, in writing, or any other appropriate mechanical device.

License fee (Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 605-5).
Every practitioner upon receiving a license shall submit to the clerk of the supreme court $10 for the benefit of the State.

Unauthorized practice of law prohibited (Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 605-14).
It is against the law for any person, firm, association, or corporation to actively or appear to be engaging in the practice of law or doing any act constituting the practice of law.  An exception will be made to the person, firm, or association that has received a license or authorization by an appropriate court, agency, office, or by a statute of Hawaii or the United States. Nothing in sections 605-14 to 605-17 contained shall be construed to prohibit the preparation or use by any party to a transaction of any legal or business form or document used in the transaction.

§ 606-5. Free copies of certain decrees to veterans.
Any veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States, the veteran’s spouse, any member of the immediate family, or next of kin of a deceased veteran may obtain a free copy of a divorce decree or adoption decree if required for a claim based on service in the Armed Forces of the United States. This decree will be provided by the clerk of any state court.

§ 662-3. Jurisdiction.
Except where noted in a statute or ruling, the circuit courts and the state district courts shall have original jurisdiction on all tort actions regarding claims against Hawaii.  These claims are for money damages (accruing on and after July 1, 1957), injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the state of Hawaii while acting within the scope of his office or employment.

Inside Hawaii State Courts